Friday, July 22, 2011

The Newman Renaissance

The National Catholic Register proclaims a Newman Renaissance in the USA, referring to Blessed John Henry Newman:

To the casual observer, there is little connection between a 19th-century convert from London named John Newman and the Catholic culture of 21st-century United States.

Yet, across the American landscape, the life of Newman, now Blessed Cardinal Newman, as of September 2010, has touched off a cultural fire that shows no signs of dying out.

This “Newman Renaissance” lighting up American art and education burns especially bright in the efforts of four organizations: Corpus Christi Watershed, the Cardinal Newman Society, the National Institute for Newman Studies and the Newman Connection.

Corpus Christi Watershed has worked with the Birmingham Oratory to produce a series of "documentary shorts providing online tours of the Oratory, including the Cardinal’s Room and Library as well as the parish church and its chapels."

My husband and I met at the St. Paul's Parish/Newman Center on the campus of Wichita State University--and we just recently attended a great fundraiser for the center--so we know the Newman renaissance on secular university campuses is essential. The Newman Connection is providing a social network presence on the web to assist those centers and share best practices.

The website of The National Institute for Newman Studies proclaims its raison d'etre:

In an effort to enhance and extend the reach of John Henry Newman's life, thought, and spirituality, a study and research institute has been developed to bring his teachings to the community of Newman scholars as well as to today's pluralistic and diverse society. Located in the heart of Pittsburgh's cultural and university center, The National Institute for Newman Studies serves as North America's definitive resource of information on John Henry Newman.

And finally, The Cardinal Newman Society is a controversial organization, and I think that is a good thing. It was founded in 1993:

The mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

The Society seeks to fulfill its mission by assisting and supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic higher education; advising students, alumni, trustees, campus officials, faculty and others engaged in renewing and strengthening the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities and Church-affiliated ministries at non-Catholic colleges and universities; and studying and promoting the work of our patron, John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially as it relates to Catholic higher education and the unity of faith and reason.

At the end of the Register article, the writer Dan Lord asks,

The question still remaining to be answered is: Why is Cardinal Newman, as opposed to some other holy man or woman of the Church, surfacing as the new model for Catholics in America? Certainly he was known by his contemporaries as a lover and collector of books, as a brilliant writer, and as a man with a passion for higher education, and all of the Americans involved with the organizations that have been founded in his honor readily acknowledge their attraction to these facets of Newman’s life.

The answer to that question is found in Newman's search for Truth and his joy in finding Him.


  1. It would be worthwhile to read Fr. Stanley Jaki's excellent books on Newman. He emphasizes Newman's concern for those attracted to the Church and his detailed and slow procedures to encourage, but not force, the last step.

  2. I work for the National Institute for Newman Studies. Thanks for the plug !

  3. Thank you, Gabriel Austin. I have read the late Fr. Jaki's books about Newman and converts. He also published a great article in Catholic Dossier, a journal the late Ralph McInerny published.
    If you have access to past issues of Homiletic and Pastoral review, you will see an article I wrote on this subject last year. It appeared in the Aug/Sept 2010 issue. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Thank you, Donna--and congratulations!